Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Paws up!

Noelle's got two paws up and is waiting for her fur-ever home.

This is a blog hopplease click the link below to visit other participating blogs. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Featured Adoptable Dog: Dixie

Dixie is up for adoption!
Dixie is a beautiful 1.5-year-old Labrador retriever mix. She came into The Animal Guardian Society's care a year ago from a Kentucky pound when she was only a puppy. 

Her arrival to Canada was adventurous! We laugh at this story now, but it wasn't so hilarious when it happened. She has always been a shy girl who doesn't trust people right away. Her travel from the States must have been frightening for her, because when the volunteers arrived at the dog park with her, she ran away the minute she found out that her collar was not tight enough! If you've been to our dog park, you probably know that there is a huge, open field behind it. That's where she ran, and she wouldn't come out to the calls of our volunteers (her having a new name made it even harder!). It was late at night and everybody was afraid that she would meet coyotes out there and get attacked. 

Dixie with former TAGS dog, Dusty.
For three days, we couldn't catch her, but our TAGS volunteers always made sure she had enough food and water by the fence. The other reason she stayed close to the area was Bart, another TAGS dog, who she made friends with. Our volunteers decided to put food out for Dixie that was "enhanced" with some Gravol, in the hope of making her drowsy enough to finally be caught. It was a great plan, except that Bart somehow managed to reach it and eat the whole thing by himself. He passed out right away! Eventually, an animal trap and a whole chicken was used to catch Dixie, and ever since, she's been safe and sound at her foster home!

She is still a timid dog, so you'll need some time to get close to her, but once she warms up, you'll see what a lovable dog she is.

Dixie's Hobbies
Dixie is not the biggest fan of the ball but likes to run after it if another dog is chasing it. She is social and active with other dogs. If the pack is up to something mischievous, count Dixie in!
Dixie trivia: She has extra dew claws on her rear legs!
Also, she would never miss an opportunity to show the local squirrels who is boss!

She knows how to sit and stay and come when called. She is crate-trained as well. Dixie is an easily trainable dog, despite not being food driven. When she wants your attention, she will put her paw on your knee.

The gentle leader is the best choice for Dixie's daily walks so that she won't escape the collar like the furry little Houdini she was on her first day. She needs her walks at least twice a day, but spending some time at the dog park will tire her out the most.

She is very friendly with every dog she meets. Due to her good-natured personality, other dogs like her right away, too. She also gets along with cats. 

Dixie is very social—here with her foster sister.


If you think you'd like Dixie, don't hesitate to fill out an adoption application form so that you can meet her at our dog park!

When she meets a new dog, she likes to sniff from behind first. 

Like Dixie on Facebook!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Did You Know TAGS Microchips?

One of the least known aspects of the TAGS organization is its microchip clinics.

In an effort to provide the community affordable care for their pets, TAGS offers microchipping of cats and dogs for the very affordable price of $30.

But what is a microchip?
A microchip is the size of a grain of rice that, when scanned, relays a number that correlates with the pet owner's information in a database.

Perhaps the most interesting fact about the microchip is that the chip itself does not actually emanate any type of signal unless it is triggered by a scanner. The technology is called RFID, or radio frequency identification. For more information about this technology, check out its Wikipedia page.

Here is a photo of a disassembled microchip package.  The black item on the right is the actual chip.  The item on the left is the needle, which is attached to a plunger, which pushes the chip through the needle under the skin. Normally you cannot see the chip because it comes loaded with the needle, but this package for some reason came disassembled.

How is microchipping done?

Microchipping is a painless procedure through which the chip is inserted under the skin. We apply rubbing alcohol to the back of the dog’s neck and rub it into the skin to help desensitize and sanitize the area. Then, similar to a flu shot, a needle is inserted, and a plunger pushes the chip through the needle under the skin. Sometimes you will see blood at the site of the puncture. Blood is made more visible by the use of the rubbing alcohol. Letting the puncture site scab over is the easiest way for the skin to recover.

Since the chip is inserted under the skin, it is impossible for the identification marker to be lost, unlike collar tags. And a chip lasts the lifetime of your pet, although it is recommended that on your next trip into the veterinary office, you have the chip scanned to ensure that it is working properly.
Here is a photo of a needle out of its package, attached to a plunger gun. The quarter in the photo gives you an idea of the size of the items. The needle screws on to the applicator and is used only once for sanitary reasons. The applicator guns can be reused as many times as you'd like.

Why get microchipping done through TAGS?

While veterinarians can microchip your pet, their cost to do so is substantially higher than what the TAGS clinic charges, which is just $30. We are able to offer this service for a low fee because our organization is 100% volunteer, and we schedule our clinics in locations that invite us in just for the day.

Microchipping is the best way to ensure your pet is recovered quickly if lost. I highly recommend that not just dogs but also housecats be chipped since catching a cat who has made a break for the door is what inspired one of my favourite phrases: This is harder than herding cats!

TAGS runs microchip clinics almost every month. Check our website or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see when our next clinic is. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scrub a Dub Dub: Tips for When Your Dog Is in the Tub

Depending on your dog's opinion of baths, or just water in general, giving them a scrub in the tub can be a quick routine procedure or it can feel as drawn-out as waiting for a four-year-old to finish her vegetables. Either way, you can expect to get wet!

Probably looks half the size she was pre-bath!
CC image courtesy of Fauxen
While giving your dog regular baths is an important part of their grooming, too many shampoo sessions can dry out their skin, especially if you aren't using gentle pet shampoo. As you get to know your dog, you'll likely come up with a loose schedule based on his or her coat length, odour, time spent outdoors, and breed.

When you've decided it's time to get down and dirty clean, gather all of the supplies you will need and extra towels to put on the floor. Before you add water to the equation, give your dog a thorough brushing to get out tangles, loose fur, and debris.

Bathing Your Dog: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Smile! Make sure you are cheerful and calm as you lead your dog into the tub or washbasin, and do your best to stay this way throughout the rest of the steps to show him that bath time is fun time! That said, don't forget to close the door so that he doesn't have an escape route.

2. Add water! Fill the tub with a few inches of warm water (but not more than this because high water levels could add to any anxiety he is feeling and will increase the likelihood of him trying to escape), and use a pail or pitcher to gently pour the water on him, starting just behind the head.

Small dogs can be bathed in the sink.
CC image courtesy of tsheko
3. Scrub! Once your pup is wet, start massaging shampoo into his fur, working from the neck down along the back to the belly and the legs. It's best to avoid shampooing the face and earsjust wipe those parts with a wet cloth if needed.

4. Rinse! Rinse him thoroughly with the same technique you used in Step 2. (If you are using a conditioner, apply it as directed on the bottle, comb it through the fur, and rinse again.)

5. Brace yourself! If you're in the bathroom, pull the shower curtain closed so that when he shakes, the water is somewhat contained (although, at this point, your efforts to stay dry might be futile).

6. Towel off! Towel dry your pooch and let him get out of the tub. Make sure that you wring out his tail and dry in and around every paw before you let him loose in the house. If he has a long coat and the towel-drying has made him look a bit ruffled, comb him again.

7. Celebrate! Reward your dog with a treat or two for his good behaviour.

Bonus tip: It's always a good idea to make sure your dog is completely dry before you let him back outside after bath time because dirt will stick to him even more than before! In the winter, this is even more important because the cold temperatures could leave your pup damp for hours. Brr!

Was this easier said than done? Just remember that no matter what happened, it was easier than trying to bathe a cat!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: TAGS visits UOIT/DC!

UOIT students hang out with Sheldon (formerly Redman)
 at Durham College & UOIT's Puppy Room January 21.

This is a blog hopplease click the link below to visit other participating blogs. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dear TAGS: What's the best method against pulling?

Hilary asked:

I have had a few people recommend a certain way of putting on our dog’s leash to reduce his pulling. Basically it's as follows: run the leash along the dog’s back to its hips; wrap the leash around the dog’s waist under its belly and loop the leash through itself to make a slip tie (it has a special name but I can't remember what!). This technique has worked wonders for us and results in much less pulling; however, my husband is concerned about the pressure of the leash on our dog’s waist/hips. What is your take on this technique? Do you recommend it?

Our certified trainer answered:

To find out if that method of using a leash could harm your dog, you should consult your veterinarian. However, there are many other options available that will most certainly help you keep your dog from pulling.

One of the primary reasons people attend our classes is to address a dog that pulls them off their feet or acts “aggressive” on leash. If you haven’t yet taken an obedience class, you could start with that.

But there are also great tools on the market to help you teach your dog how not to pull. Which one is right for you is a personal decision.

Dog with gentle leader. CC image courtesy of krossbow on Flickr.
I have always used the veterinarian-developed Gentle Leader head halter.  When the Gentle Leader first hit the market, it was sold only through veterinarians and trainers, who would ensure a proper fit for the dog. Now pet stores are selling them, and I have a concern that they are not fit and used properly. The principle behind the Gentle Leader is simple: control the head, control the dog.

Several years ago, anti-pull harnesses hit the market. They offered a different approach. Rather than using a halter-style, the harness was designed to cover the dog’s body to reduce the dog from pulling. They work well, and I have never heard of any issues with them. Again, remember these are special harnesses for teaching dogs not to pull; they are not a regular-style harness, which will make some dogs pull more.
Dusty pulls a lot less with this special type of harness

In the old days, choke collars were used, and we were taught to “correct” the dog by snapping the chain until the dog responded to our command. I would never use a choke collar or a pinch collar! Why would we use tools that can harm our dogs and that most pet owners do not use correctly?

So, ultimately, what is the goal? Most owners are happy to use the tool that eliminates the pulling—end of story. As a trainer, though, I ask, Is your dog learning? Tools should be used to teach your dog. And they must be used correctly. Walks are opportunities for training, challenging and rewarding your pet. Make the most of them!

If you have any questions concerning your pet, send us an email or ask it on Facebook or  Twitter or in the comment section below.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Outreach Event - Pet Valu Adoptathon

The Animal Guardian Society is set up for an adoptathon event at the Pet Valu in Oshawa located at the intersection of Taunton and Harmony. The adoptathon will be on Saturday, January 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

June Bug, Noelle, Lexi Leigh and Tanya will be at Pet Valu on Saturday and can't wait to meet you! Click on their names below to view their profiles on Petfinder. 

June Bug - a Shetland sheepdog (Sheltie) mix

Noelle - a rat terrier mix
Lexi Leigh - a terrier/shih tzu mix
Tanya - a Chesapeake bay retriever

Friday, January 18, 2013

Top 5 Fun Winter Activities to Do With Your Dog

Despite the weather getting colder and colder, make some time to exercise with your dog. When it's mild and calm outside (usually right after it snows), grab your jacket and your dog and get out of the house for some playtime! 

Aside from the usual snowball throwing, there are other creative ways to tire the dog (and yourself) out.

Dawson is up for adoption. Like his photo on Facebook!

1. Hide-'n'-seek. Dogs are just like kids: they love to play hide-'n'-seek. Hide somewhere and call your dog's name until he finds you. It's a good practice for his obedience training, too.

2. Play in the snow. Your dog will find it hilarious to see you lie down and make a snow angel next to him. He will probably want to help you, so watch out for his wet kisses and cold nose!

3. Run. Race to the park with your dog. Dogs love a challenge! They love to get their muscles moving, and they are surely in need of some exercise after being in the house all day.

4. Under the snow. If you have durable, water-repellent gloves, then grab a stick and shove it under the snow. Start moving the stick right under the surface of the snow level so that your dog can see the movement. He'll have great fun trying to catch the mysterious, hidden object!

5. Socialize. Arrange a play date with a friend who also has a dog. Dogs are social beings who like to spend time with fellow furry friends. Let them chase each other and play games while you catch up with your friend!

These simple games do not require any tools that you have to purchase. However, you should always make sure that your dog is warm enough during your playtime, especially if he has short hair. Also, check the roads beforehand to determine whether walking on them is safe for your dog (salt or ice can be dangerous). Have fun!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Raggs

Raggs - a "senior" dog who's super young at heart
This is a blog hop - please click the button below to visit other participating blogs.

Monday, January 14, 2013

TAGS Educates

TAGS feels that it's important to always educate people about pets. It seems easy to own a dog or a cat, but there is much more to it. We can always improve ourselves to better understand our furry companions. 

Chappie and Blossum (recently adopted) just graduated! Good job!
Hence, TAGS introduced a Dear TAGS section in the blog where you can send your questions about your dog's or cat's behaviour or any other topic that you might be interested in. Our certified trainers are ready to answer you! Submit your questions here.

TAGS is now officially back from the holiday vacation, which means that we are ready to launch our winter classes! Our first session starts on the 19th of January and is held in our dog park. Don't miss out—you can still apply by emailing us here or calling us at 905-263-TAGS (8247). 

You'll learn how to read your dog's reactions and how to communicate with him more effectively. If you want to read TAGS-approved training tips, please click here.

TAGS will always make sure that your dog feels comfortable and never threatened while being trained. To find out why TAGS disassociates itself from punitive techniques, read this informative blog post.

We'll also have puppy classes at Pet Valu starting on March 7. These classes will be most suitable for puppies of 8-12 weeks, so if you own a newborn dog, you can already mark your calendar for this date! More info will be posted as the date approaches. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

TAGS Dogs Are Headed to College!

The Animal Guardian Society is teaming up with the Student Association at Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) to help students conquer Blue Monday blues.

Hard to feel blue when you're looking into these eyes!
(Livvy is available for adoption through TAGS.)
The third Monday in January has been dubbed "Blue Monday" as it is considered to be the most depressing day of the year. The days are short, the weather is nasty, and the holidays are overwhich means there is less to look forward to and, potentially, some leftover Christmas-related bills to deal with.

To help reduce student stress and lighten the mood on Blue Monday, TAGS dogs will be at the North Oshawa campus January 21 to lend a paw as part of a campus-wide de-stress day.

The Student Association will be hosting the event in its Student Centre lounge, where they also plan to have massage therapists, snacks and refreshments available for students.

Playing with dogs is a great stress reliever.
(Iggy is available for adoption.)
Dogs from TAGS will be there from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to receive pats and hugs from student visitors.

The idea to include TAGS dogs in the de-stress day came from Dalhousie University's puppy room, a successful campaign held last fall that helped students unwind during the exam period. Dogs from a local organization were invited to play and interact with students who needed a break from the grind of student life.

Stay tuned to find out how the TAGS dogs' visit to Durham College/UOIT goes!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Recipe: Bacon & Cheddar Dog Treats

Russell & Rileya picture that completely captures their different personalities
It really doesn't take much to impress my furry friendsa little shredded cheddar and some bacon fat will do the trick. (I actually have a mason jar filled with bacon fat for this very reason!) The dough for these bacon and cheddar dog treats comes together very quickly, just like for the previous recipe we posted for pumpkin peanut butter dog treats. As much as I love baking, when it comes to dog cookies, there are no real skills involved, and honestly, if you mess it up, your canine critics don't care much anyway. It's all in the ingredients, and the line-up in this particular dog treat is sure to please even the pickiest palatelike Riley!

We love our cookies extra crunchy, and baking them a little longer helps keep them crunchier longer. Our dogs love the satisfying crunch-crunch-crunch. We also share most of our homemade treats since they don't have any preservatives and won't last very long. However, the treats can also be frozen if you don't have anyone to share them with.

I swapped out the vegetable oil and subbed in coconut oil due to the health benefits of coconut oil for dogs but you can use whatever you've got on hand. My dogs love coconut oilthey even love to eat if off a spoon.

Bacon & Cheddar Dog Treats ready to eat!
Bacon & Cheddar Dog Treats

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup bacon fat, melted
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
2-3 tsp coconut (or vegetable) oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. On a floured work surface, knead the dough for 10-15 seconds, until the dough comes together in a smooth ball. Roll dough to 1/4-1/2" thickness and cut into desired shape(s)the dough might be greasy/oily but should roll easily.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, depending on size and desired crunch factor.

Cool and give one to your salivating and patiently waiting pooch:

Russell practising his "leave it" command
....and store the rest in an airtight container (or freeze).

PS. If your pooch is trying to watch is weight or you'd like to lighten up the recipe above,  substitute pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) for the bacon fat.

Recipe adapted from: Delish Blog

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Guess the Breed Contest: DNA Testing

Many of the dogs we see go through our program are interesting mixes.

Well, one of our past adopters couldn't keep guessing and decided to DNA test her two TAGS dogs.


If you guess a correct breed in the comments section of her blog by Sunday (Jan. 13), their mom, Cathy Witlox, will give you your choice of prize: either a custom hand-knit doggy sweater for your dog or a donation in your name to an animal charitywe know a good one! ;)

Go to to guess their breeds.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Deep in Thought

Iggy is a rottweiler-shepherd mix who's looking for his fur-ever home!
 This is a blog hop. Check out the other blogs, too, by clicking on the image below.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pub Night Fundraiser for the Dogs

TAGS had a really good year, both fundraising- and adoption-wise.

But this is a new year now, and we have prepared fresh ideas to save more dogs and cats from high-kill shelters or pounds.

Click on the image and like this event on Facebook!
During times like this, when people think twice about where to spend their money, it becomes especially hard to receive donations. That's why we are always trying to come up with new, creative ideas that will give people something in exchange for their generous donations.

On January 12, we are gathering together in the Portly Piper Pub in Ajax for a wonderful night that will include a fun 50/50 draw, live music and food. And the entry fee is only $10! Live entertainment will be provided by Loud'n'Clear.

You can buy tickets even at the door. The event starts at 8:00 p.m. Don't miss out on this great night!

View Larger Map

Don't forget to RSVP to this event on our Facebook page!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

For those who are not involved in rescue, some of the policies and practices of a rescue group may seem odd.

While many of the policies are put in place due to past experiences, the decisions rescue groups make can sometimes be more puzzling. 

When I originally got involved in rescue, I was preparing myself for some really difficult situations. Many of the reactions I get when I tell people I volunteer in rescue is “Oh, that must be hard.” My answer to that is, working with the dogs is the most rewarding thing I can do, but the decisions are almost impossible.

How do you decide which dogs to pull from the pound and which ones to leave? The simple answer to all of these types of questions is, we do as much as we can with the resources we have. 

In particular, those resources are foster homes. Since we do not have any type of shelter, we rely on our network of foster homes to house dogs who, in some cases, literally have a needle in their arm.  

So it may seem odd when a rescue puts a dog in a "temporary" foster home, only to move it to another more permanent foster home a week later. Usually, the case is that we would rather take the needle out of the dog's arm and put him in a warm, loving home, even if for just a week, until more suitable or longer-term accommodations are available. 

Another question we commonly get is, Why do you bring dogs up from shelters in the States when pounds are occupied with dogs in our own community? We always look to our local shelters first when we have an open foster home. However, some further explanation is in order.

There can be many different reasons a dog is brought into a pound. She may simply be lost and just waiting for her owner to claim her. If nobody comes to claim the dog, and she has been at the pound for a length of time, rescue groups like ours take notice and begin a conversation about taking the dog into our program.

Sunny, an highly adoptable chocolate Lab, was in a pound in Kentucky, and his time ran out after he went unclaimed.
Why let a beautiful 1 year old dog like this be euthanized when we have an open foster home?
Sunny was adopted in summer 2012 within a few weeks of entering the program.

In the meantime, we may have an open foster home and might get word that a dog will be euthanized in a high-kill shelter (meaning very high euthanization rates, with few dogs being claimed by owners or adopted) across the border. In that case, why allow those dogs to be euthanized when we have a loving foster home willing to save them? Our view is that if we can save a dog’s life, geographic location is irrelevant. Rescue is the business of saving lives.

Cora, a very gentle soul, is one of the TAGS
seniors who was adopted into a loving home.
Of specific note are the senior dogs. Seniors are often euthanized faster because they are less likely to be adopted. In some cases, dogs are brought to the pound for the simple reason of being "too old." Senior dogs offer many benefits including requiring less exercise, already being trained,  and are especially loving. This situation has led TAGS to create an innovative initiative called Seniors for Seniors.

We also get many comments on our policy to operate only within Durham Region (population 608,124). This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but we have a general rule out of respect for our volunteers. Our adoption process requires our volunteers to visit the home to conduct a questionnaire. Asking volunteers to drive out to Mississauga is too much to ask. We could do the interview over the phone but feel that a home visit is the only way to really understand the environment the dog will be going into. Our program also requires adopters to attend an eight-week training class in Enfield, Ontario, which is less feasible if they have to drive farther distances.

TAGS began to notice that many of the homes that we interviewed and approved to be foster homes were adopting their first foster dog, and then were not willing to foster any longer. As a result, the number of foster homes we had dwindled. Therefore, TAGS now has a rule that a foster family cannot adopt their first foster. 

This policy is to remind current and potential fosters that being a foster home is not about the dog you have but about the dog somewhere out there who has only days to live. By that, I mean, being a foster home allows you to quite literally save a dog’s life (or several dogs' lives over time). It may be difficult to see each one go, but it is even harder to think of all the other dogs in need.
An email from Sue, the TAGS foster coordinator, sent on December 21, 2012.

The two dogs Sue was trying to save from being euthanized on Christmas Eve.
So the next time you hear about a rescue organization doing something you might not personally agree with, take into account the dog out there who is hours away from euthanization. And there is something you can do, too: VOLUNTEER!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - A Cozy Afternoon

Dawson (on the right) fits in well with his foster family, but he is looking for a permanent home. Adopt Dawson!
For more info about Dawson, click on this link and 'like' his Facebook photo!

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